My last day at the restaurant was Saturday and I am proud to say I have survived being a server. Rather, the restaurant survived me. Too many dishes and pieces of glassware did not. You're welcome, Mikasa.
I was never married to being a server. Most nights, the latest I stay up is because of work, otherwise I'm in bed after the eleven-o-clock news. I suck at building a rapport because I don't remember names or faces very well. Serving has infiltrated my dreams on more than one occasion (my personal favorite: the Perpetually In the Weeds scenario, where I'm sat table after table after table and everyone is giving me their order and each time I try to go ring it in another table is sat and is whistling me over until everyone in the entire dining room is glaring at me because they have no food, no water, and no sweet tea), but for the most part, I don't carry my job around with me. Really.
But it's been one of the best jobs I've ever had. I love my coworkers, our Chef, Sous Chef, and the rest of the kitchen crew. I really like my boss, despite being certain that she had it in for me on more than one occasion (coming from the Olive Garden didn't help). The job has certainly had its ups and downs; too often would I leave hating myself because no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to make anyone happy. But just as often I'd leave with a sense of accomplishment. The best days were the ones when little old ladies would all but pinch my cheeks and tell me how fabulous everything was (even if they still think it's 1957 and tip me in change), or a little kid smiles up at me and says, "You're the BEST waitress EVER!"
When I was pregnant I pretty much rocked it, tip-wise. Except I didn't show through my work shirt until I was like 7 1/2 months. One time, I was describing some dishes to a table where a woman very engrossed in our menu when she looked up, startled, and said, "Oh my god you're pregnant!" The thing I got all the time is that not one part of me looked the least bit pregnant, except for the basketball sticking out from under my shirt. On my last day before my maternity leave, a customer asked the usual "how much longer do you have?" "Uh... like, 3 weeks and 1 day..." and she goes "WHAT are you still doing HERE? Go sit down!"
And the bad days, well, I can laugh at them all now.
Like the time I made a 6% tip for no apparent reason (3 days ago, actually). The couple was all nice and smiley whenever I was at the table, but in an intense argument when I wasn't, according to my manager.
Or the couple that our manager had to kindly ask to leave because their argument was far less discreet. There was yelling. And cursing. Very loud. On Valentine's Day. Ah... romance.
And the time I got yelled at and had a check presenter practically thrown back at me by a man who was very upset that someone else at the table had arranged payment with me before the end of the meal, because he had to pay and there would be no exception.
The numerous occasions that I had to tactfully explain (without sounding condescending) that "bruschetta" means "bread", and does not automatically signify a dish made with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to a person who was already very pissed off that we didn't have "normal" bruschetta.
The people who ask to sit outside at night, only to get upset at the lack of lighting and the size font on our menus.
And my personal favorite: Waiting on a table of 20-something 20-somethings, all Latin American (before you call me a racist, my coworker Jose, who's sister had been promoted and was the reason they were all out to eat, came up to me beforehand and said, "You're waiting on them? I'm going to tell you now: I'm sorry.") Remember that serving nightmare I described. That was this table. I couldn't make it around the table to get everyone's order without the person I started with pointing at his empty beer bottle, pointing at his watch, and then throwing his hands up in a "what the fuck?" kind of gesture. Yup.
I doubt I'll be returning to serving anytime soon, except for when I come back to Greenville so the baby's grandparents can see her and I can pick up a shift to make up for the drive. Unless Kevin Gillespie's restaurant is hiring. That might be worth the commute from Newnan to Atlanta.